Studies of solitary semicircular canal hair cells in the adult pigeon. II. Voltage-dependent ionic conductances.

Abstract

1. The ionic conductances present in putative type II hair cells enzymatically dissociated from the anterior, posterior, and lateral semicircular canal cristae of the white king pigeon (Columba livia) vestibule were studied under whole cell voltage clamp. 2. Two classes of voltage-dependent potassium conductances were distinguishable on the basis of the time course of activation and inactivation and pharmacologic sensitivity. The rapid potassium conductance, IA, as inhibited by 6 mM 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), whereas the slow potassium conductance, IK, was inhibited by 50 mM tetraethylammonium (TEA). These conductances were not affected by extracellular calcium removal. IA was quite similar to the rapidly-inactivating A-current of molluscan soma, whereas IK was more like the delayed rectifier of molluscan soma. 3. The steady-state inactivation of IA occurred over a potential range from -100 to -40 mV. The threshold for activation of IA occurred between -60 and -50 mV. The slope conductance of the I-V curve over a range of -50 to -20 mV was 13.7 nS when the conditioning pulse was -100 mV, and we estimate it to be approximately 1-2 nS from the resting membrane potential of -56 mV. 4. The steady-state inactivation of IK was approximately 60% at -40 mV and was completely removed at -80 mV. The threshold for activation of IK was between -50 and -40 mV. The slope conductance of the I-V curve over a range of -50 to -20 mV was 10.5 nS when the conditioning pulse was -80 mV, and we estimate it to be approximately 6-7 nS from the resting potential of -56 mV. 5. At -56 mV (the average resting membrane potential of putative type II semicircular canal hair cells), approximately 10-14% of IA channels and approximately 57-70% of IK channels were not inactivated: thus IA and IK can contribute to the outward current during small depolarizations from rest. 6. A small calcium-dependent outward current, IK(Ca), could be elicited during step depolarizations from a holding potential of -40 mV. This calcium-dependent current was active over the range of -20 to +40 mV. 7. Inward currents could not be detected when the cells were exposed to normal physiological solutions. However, when the outward currents were blocked with internal cesium and the external solution contained 20 mM barium, sustained inward currents with rapid activation kinetics could be detected. The threshold for activation of the inward current occurred at -40 mV, and the I-V relationship peaked at -10 mV.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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